In the wake of the new Thunderbolt 3 USB-C only MacBook Pro, OWC has announced its first Thunderbolt 3 Dock. The dock features a total of 13 additional ports, including 5 USB-A ports, two additional Thunderbolt 3 ports (which could drive a pair of 4K displays), Ethernet and an SD card reader.
Thanks to the high bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3, all of this expandability can be enabled by connecting a single Thunderbolt 3 USB-C cable to your new MacBook Pro (or any other computer with a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port). In comparison, the Thunderbolt 2 version of this dock can only drive 5 concurrent accessories, so it’s easy to see the benefits of the additional throughput.
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As people lament the removal of traditional USB ports or the SD card slot on the 2016 MacBook Pro, the OWC Dock shows a potential solution for people who want to connect a lot of legacy accessories and peripherals.
Because it can charge the connected laptop as well, it actually increases the effective number of usable ports on the MacBook itself as the designated power cable can now also provide I/O functionality.
The Dock offers two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports which operate at maximum transfer speeds of 40 gigabits/sec. You can connect two 4K displays at 60hz to the dock using these ports or three displays at lower resolutions by combining the Thunderbolt 3 ports with the mini DisplayPort. There are also five USB-A ports, making up for the absence of any USB-A ports on the new MacBook Pro itself. Two of these ports can also fast-charge an iPad and iPhone.
There’s also a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired networking, a S/PDIF optical audio output, a SD card reader for getting pictures out of your camera (again making up for the removal of the SD card slot on the new MacBook Pros), a 3.5mm jack for headphones or mic input and a FireWire 800 port if you have some really old Mac accessories.
All of this capability comes in a relatively small enclosure, about 20 cm in width and 10 cm in length. It’s a more elegant option than a sprawl of dongles, that’s for sure.
Priced at $279, the bundle includes the dock, a power supply, and a 0.5m Thunderbolt 3 cable to connect it to the Mac. The OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock is shipping in February 2017, so there’s a little wait until you can get one for yourselves. However, you can preorder the product at some resellers now to get as soon as it is available.